Socialist Worker

US’s new colonial plan for Afghanistan

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2144

The West is sidelining Afghan president Hamid Karzai, whose picture hangs from this building in the capital Kabul (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

The West is sidelining Afghan president Hamid Karzai, whose picture hangs from this building in the capital Kabul (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

Details of Barack Obama’s new strategy for the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan make for grim reading.

The US president is planning to impose a colonial-style “chief executive” on Afghanistan. This person will rule “alongside” Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.

The function of this “executive”, who will be appointed by the US, will be to dilute the power of the Afghan president.

Mohammed Hanif Atmar, the current interior minister and a former intelligence officer during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, is being touted as the person to fill this role.

The revelations have drawn a harsh response from Karzai, who George Bush’s regime imposed on the country following the US invasion in 2001. Karzai declared that, “Afghanistan will never be a puppet state.”

The US has lost patience with its former ally. It accuses Karzai of sanctioning corruption and drug running – which are both true.

“What we’re looking for is a comprehensive strategy, and there’s got to be an exit strategy,” Obama told CBS television. “There’s got to be a sense that this is not a perpetual drift.”

But many Afghans see the move as an attempt to block Karzai’s plans for reconciliation with the resistance, including sections of the Taliban.

Under the US plan, all resources will be channelled to the provinces rather than through the central government. This effectively partitions the country by building up the power of local warlords and leaders of ethnic groups.

Resources will come under the direct control of US and European “civilians”, supposedly to improve the country’s infrastructure.

A similar scheme, proposed by Bush, led to widespread corruption among the Western firms that won the contracts. Many projects were never built or were of such low quality that they were unusable. Meanwhile, the companies pocketed billions of dollars in profits.

The new plan – misleadingly labelled an “exit strategy” – involves sending tens of thousands of additional US troops into the troubled south of the country, boosting the size of the Afghan army from 65,000 to 230,000 and extending the war further into Pakistan.

Obama is said to have approved expanding the area of operation for “Predators” – unmanned drones armed with deadly missiles, to include the Baluchistan region of Pakistan.

The Baluchi people form a distinct ethnic group, divided between Afghanistan, western Pakistan and eastern Iran.

The US is hoping that its “mini-surge” will create the conditions for stability in Afghanistan. Yet all the evidence points to the war continuing to create instability across the region.

The US strategy will be put to a gathering of ministers of the Nato military alliance in Strasbourg, France next week.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators will be holding a counter-summit, marches and protests at the event.

Activists from Britain, who will also protest against the G20 summit in London, plan to join the demonstrations.

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Tue 24 Mar 2009, 17:56 GMT
Issue No. 2144
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